Inside Apple - December 12th, 2019

Inside Apple (Dec 12th, 2019)

iPhone tariffs scheduled for Sunday / #ThrowbackThursday: Mac IIfx / Mac Pro thermodynamics

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$AAPL (10:14 AM EST December 12): $272.25 (+0.55%) // More info

I’m totally over hearing about the price of the Mac Pro, so consider today’s #ThrowbackThursday my last word on the subject. Any sober-minded Apple person knew the news cycle was going to be like this from the moment the new Mac Pro was announced, of course. All we have to do now is wait a week for people to get over it.

— Jon

1. The 15 percent tariff on iPhone imports to the U.S. is scheduled to kick in this Sunday, but Tim Cook has laid it on thick with President Trump, and Chinese officials expect the tariffs to be delayed. With an average selling price around $1,000, these tariffs would amount to $150 per iPhone, so Apple will dodge a bullet if the tariffs are delayed. The big question, for consumers on one side and investors on the other, is whether Apple would eat the costs (bad for investors) or pass them on to consumers (bad for consumers, though probably ultimately bad for both). Apple is already paying 30 percent duties on Apple Watch, AirPods, iMacs, and HomePods, and it hasn’t raised prices on those, but the iPhone would be a whole different beast. — BLOOMBERG

2. A Credit Suisse analyst report found that China iPhone shipments dropped 35 percent year-over-year in November despite an overall slight increase in the smartphone market there. Apple stock (ticker: AAPL) was down nearly 1 percent premarket today but recovered just after open. Credit Suisse also says sales declined 10.3 percent YoY in October. I’m reporting this because it’s a reversal of what other reports, including government data, indicated in September, which is that this cycle was looking unusually good. Either there was a startling reversal in iPhone sales in China between September and October — which is conceivable, since that’s when the iPhone 11 launch euphoria would have worn off — or somebody is wrong here. — CNBC

3. #ThrowbackThursday: In March 1990, Apple introduced the Macintosh IIfx. It was the fastest, most powerful Mac of its day; its reign lasted two years before it was dethroned by the Quadra. The base configuration was $9,000. In 2019 dollars, that’s $17,930. At the top end, it was around $12,000 in 1990, or $23,908 today.

Internet people were flipping out this week about the fact that one can spec out the new Mac Pro to over $50,000, as though its an indication that Apple has lost its mind. Well, a reasonably specced 2019 Mac Pro, with a Pro Display XDR, costs about the same as the top-end Mac did in 1990, and it’s just a wee bit better of a computer (and screen), wouldn’t you say? The original Mac launched at about the same price as the base 2019 Mac Pro! Here are more favorable price comparisons with classic Macs. And have you tried maxing out a Dell tower workstation lately? $176.280.20. So take a chill pill, everybody. If a Mac Pro is too expensive for you, try one of Apple’s many other powerful computers. — @JSNELL

4. Apple is now selling the Brydge keyboard for the 10.2-inch iPad and 10.5-inch iPad Air in stores and online. Brydge is the best truly laptop-style iPad keyboard with great backlit keyboards in nice aluminum cases. I have one myself for the iPad Pro, though lately, I’ve returned to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio. It’s a little bit revealing that Apple isn’t selling the iPad Pro version of the Brydge, but maybe they’ll add more products if these sell well. — THE VERGE

5. Apple engineers spoke to Popular Mechanics about how the new Mac Pro’s massive fans keep the super-high-end machine cool without making a deafening noise. The manager of the group that designed the fans is a pilot — that’s how interested he is in how air moves. The fan blades have a randomized blade pass frequency (BPF) that prevents annoying harmonics and makes the noise more distributed across a wider band of frequencies. If you’re wondering why the new Mac Pro has all those crazy holes on it, it’s because of all the air these fans have to move through. — POPULAR MECHANICS

6. OMNY, the New York City public transit system’s tap-and-go payment system that supports Apple Pay Express Transit and other providers, is now available at Penn Station. It will be available at 85 MTA stations later this month, and the plan is for all 472 subway stations and all bus routes to have it by the end of 2020. Rollout to buses in Manhattan will begin in March 2020. — MACRUMORS

7. Apple is making serious headway with Siri’s intelligence this year, especially when it comes to distinguishing people’s voices from each other. It’s no mean feat to be able to recognize an individual person’s voice on their device without the company capturing any personal data about them. Apple is doing this using federated learning, a privacy-preserving machine learning method developed at Google in 2017. — TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

8. Business Insider’s recent video, “Why Apple Products Are So Expensive,” relies on outdated, inaccurate, and outright false claims. This takedown by analyst Neil Cybart deconstructs the popular notion of an “Apple Tax” — a premium Apple can extract for no reason other than that people are unwilling to leave its ecosystem. But Apple’s hardware margins are actually declining as the products get more high-tech and Apple maintains — or even lowers! — prices. — ABOVE AVALON

9. Apple’s lawyers got a little trigger-happy with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request on a tweet from the jailbreaking community. The tweet contained an encryption key that could be used to get around the iPhone’s Secure Enclave, the part of the device that encrypts things behind your password and Touch ID or Face ID. It’s pretty hard to argue copyright over a number, though; Apple did retract the takedown request, and Twitter restored the tweet. Security researchers think Apple’s harsh stance against the jailbreak community is stifling research that could help Apple make its devices more secure. — VICE

10. Disney+ has been downloaded 22 million times on mobile devices, according to mobile app analytics firm Apptopia. That number doesn’t count usage on desktop browsers, smart TVs, or plug-in boxes like Apple TV. Apptopia also says Disney+ has 9.5 million daily active users on mobile alone – the top performer on both Apple and Google‘s app stores. Disney reported 10 million signups total on the first day of Disney+, and it’s only available in five countries so far. — CNBC

Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.

This newsletter was edited by Bobby Cherry, a Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist and senior editor at Inside, who also curates Inside Pittsburgh. Reach him at

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